How Important is a Good Reputation?

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 Pic from Twitter.com

Sometimes, reputation is all you’ve got. Or it is the most valuable thing you’ve got. When you are in a role where your credibility is on the line every, single day, reputation is critical. The situation with Brian Williams is a tragedy because the public trusted what he reported and depended on his information to be true. The public has decided that he violated that trust. It’s like a whole lot of other things. It is difficult to acquire and keep trust in any relationship. Once you lose it, it’s hard to get it back.

In the future, I would still wonder about his reports and if they are truthful or if they contain twists. All it takes is one falsehood to make someone unreliable.

The CEO of NBC Universal, Steve Burke, spent some time with Williams after the decision of his suspension. NPR (2015) has quoted Burke as saying Williams, “has shared his deep remorse with me, and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust” (npr.org). He added, “He deserves a second chance, and we are rooting for him.” A second chance? It is not likely that he will ever be hired as an anchor again. He should realize this and not even attempt to make a comeback.

Of course we all make mistakes. We all screw up at work sometimes. Not usually to the extent that Williams did, but we do. The question that should truly be contemplated when we make a mess at work is this: How do you handle these setbacks and mistakes? The answer is straightforward: You deal with them head on. Accept that, “Yep, I made a mistake!” Accept the consequences; the demotion or the reassignment humbly. Methodically, carefully and slowly bring yourself back from the brink. Remind yourself that this is just a minor setback for a major comeback. Then set out your recovery plan. It may mean changing companies. It may mean you have to work extra hard to get back where you were before your faux pas.

Sometimes there is no way to get back to where you once were. Realize that some companies have a non-forgiving culture. In companies that adopt this unspoken practice, you may not be fired. However, it is highly unlikely that you will move any further up the ladder. Know which company you work for and make plans accordingly. Clawing and scraping and doing everything you can to come back up is always admirable and usually serves its purpose. However, in some situations, you may ultimately have to change companies. If you do, be mindful of the mistakes you have made. Be careful not to repeat your past. Remember, you can do anything you put your mind to and work hard at. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough and are willing to devote the time and effort needed to make it happen!

Open up Negotiations and get Workers Back to Work. The sooner, the better.

Featured imageA few days ago, the Steelworkers Union (2015) wrote, “The United Steelworkers (USW) announced today that it will expand its unfair labor practice strike (ULP) by launching a work stoppage tonight at midnight at the Motiva Enterprises refinery in Port Arthur, Texas” (usw.org/news). The timing of this strike against the oil companies is horrendous for the steel workers. I think at the end of the day, the employees who are part of that union may eventually make some gains but what they lose economically while on strike will consume many of the gains they may be able to achieve.

Think about it like this: You may get a $2,000 a year raise at the end of a strike. However, you lost $4,000 by striking because union workers do not get paid by their company while they are on strike. The union may have a little money on hand for their strikers, but they only supply minimal support, if any. The timing is atrocious because of the cut back on capital spending, layoffs, less drilling oil. So, I have to question why the union leadership would take them out on strike. Now entering its fourth week, negotiations have still not proven to be successful at dispersing the strike. Employees will not recover financially from a strike in a near term. Strikes are generally lose/lose and the harm it does is irreparable. Workers dislike managers. Managers don’t trust their workers and the group implodes.

During the strike, the plant is still running, jobs are temporarily being filled, and the end consumer is still getting their product. The overall effect of this strike on America is minimal. According to CNBC (2015), “The strike spreads over 12 oil refineries and affects about 20 percent of the U.S.’ production” (cnbc.com).

One company’s leadership said they would pay several thousand dollars to each strike participant in order to get them to come back to work. In the agreement, after they resume, then they will negotiate further. Companies are not going to change their practices significantly. Bringing in people for contract work to do turn around jobs, is okay. Union workers do not like this, but it is still a good business idea.

With the downturn in the oil business, they do not have much leverage over the company, so the unionized employees lose. Alternatively, what is wrong with the Exxon proposal? Why not get your $4500 and go back to work while the contract is being negotiated. Maybe it is time for the union to undergo some drastic changes in the process, so that employees don’t suffer all of these hardships.

Shell has taken the role of lead spokesman for bargaining. So they are at the table talking to the union. Whatever Shell agrees to with the union, then everyone else will fall in line and agree as well, kind of like the way the United Nations works.

The OCAWU pattern (Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers), now known as the United Steelworkers, is a set of agreements reached and followed the other impacted oil company’s union members.  Many unions, even those who are not part of OCAWU, use these practices as a main outline for their individual companies A main group, like OCAWU, negotiates for the biggest points, like wage increases, employee safety, contractors and so forth. Of course, there were other things that were pertinent to a particular location. These were called local issues. Local issues are solved by each location and are not part of any national OCAWU negotiations.

Here’s something I did at a plant in the Midwest. At the time, 11 unions followed OCAWU. We knew the contract expiration date was approaching so we believed we should let everyone keep working, even if the expiration date passed. You see, if the expiration date passes and no agreement has been reached, a rolling 24 is usually enacted. This means we will keep working until an agreement is reached, or until the union headquarters calls for a strike. (Which is what is currently happening.)What I thought was best was to give the Union what they needed to continue working throughout the negotiations. I suggested the change that was made was for union employees to continue to work and the company’s and union agree to a mutual problem solving process that takes place throughout the entire year. One, you don’t wait for the contract to be up in order to change it, if needed. You can do away with open and closed subjects and solve problems continuously.

Normally, closed subjects can only be discussed when a contract is open for bargaining, which is when it has expired. I believed (and still believe) we should talk about everything in a mutual problem solving type of way. Let’s not stonewall each other. By this I mean, if we have a problem, let’s talk about it all of the time. Let’s not let it build up for years; generally a contract is about 3 years. This practice eliminates strike deadlines. In my experience, the employees kept working and we talked year around.

I did this twice. People thought it was a fluke the first time. Three years later, we didn’t stop working when the contract was up. There was no strike, it was no longer necessary. We just worked with each other consistently.  Instead of waiting for 3 years to figure out what we wanted and hitting each other over the head with a plethora of dung, the Midwest Company consistently met and talked about our goals, concerns and wants for the group. The company was down millions when I stepped in and when I left, we were netting at least a million a year.

Why not work together all of the time to work out our issues?

I recently read in the Washington Post (2015) that, “If negotiations break down further, the strike could spread to other refineries, and could slow U.S. output enough to scare traders into bidding gasoline prices higher” (washingtonpost.com). You know what I think? I think people who don’t understand how it works could be frightened. But, look at history. There is no shortage on gasoline. Absolutely not. Traders sometimes prey on fear. “Oh shit, we’re going to run out of gas” Ha! It ain’t gonna happen! Let’s open up negotiations and get the workers back to work while we do so. The sooner, the better.

How to know and what to do if you are Impacted by a Lack of Motivation.

We can get into the schedule of life with work, children and a spouse and feel like our schedules are full. But are they really? Are you impacted by lack of motivation? Stuck in a rut? How do you know?

Featured imageIt can be as simple as looking around your home. Are there things you have intended to do that you have left undone? Even spring cleaning that has been put off for months, or a few simple home improvement projects that you have only partially researched or left uncompleted. It can be things like books you have not finished reading, or new subjects you have only partially learned. Maybe these are things you do not even have to do yourself, and really all you have to do is to call somebody to help. These are all things that may be signs of a lack of consistent motivation.

Are you comfortable with what you are doing and what you’ve achieved? Are you okay with the position you have at work? Are you okay with staying in the same town, with no vacation, year after year? If so, you are probably stuck because you should always be stretched. Even if you’re in retirement, you need to feel stretched. Involve yourself in your community. Learn something new. Complete old projects. Invite others to help you. I don’t know if any of us will get to our maximum potential in life since there will always be something left on the table…However, we can try to stretch ourselves a little further all the time.

Don’t overstretch ‘til you break, but stretch like you do in the morning! I like to stretch through doing mentoring… but you can do your own self- evaluation. Be true to yourself in this. Everyone knows when they aren’t living up to their potential. Be real. Strive to be pleased and satisfied with yourself. It takes remarkable courage and energy to get out of that rut.

Are you reluctant to do new things, or meet new people, or to simply stretch yourself? Like Nike says, “Just Do it!” Start withFeatured image baby steps and reward yourself frequently. This builds momentum. When you get a pat on your back, or a, “Job well done” it makes you stick your chest out a bit. It builds excitement and makes you want to keep going. The more pats, the more confidence that builds and the bigger strides you will begin to take.

While some feel stretched, they are not always doing the things that stretch them in the right way. Remember to prioritize. What’s important? What is currently a waste of time? What makes you feel good? Then prioritize. How do you get there? Which comes first? Maybe a daily schedule would help. Write down all of the things you need to do every day (shower, drop children at school, appointments, etc.) then write in the things that will help you to stretch in a productive way. Keep going, endurance is prime. Remember, you got this!

I’m tired of my job! How do I get into the Corporate World?

Featured imageSometimes people do not know how or when to change their career or job path. For many, it starts with getting a college education and an advanced, degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2014), “young adults with a bachelor’s degree earned more than twice as much as those without a high school credential (105 percent more) and 57 percent more than young adult high school completers. Additionally, in 2012 the median of earnings for young adults with a master’s degree or higher was… some 27 percent more than the median for young adults with a bachelor’s degree” (http://nces.ed.gov). With numbers like these, the answer to when to take the next step is easy. Now! It is amazing that many more people are not on the track to furthering their education.

For those who are intrigued, the process for furthering your formal education begins with thorough research. It is great to think about what you like doing, but remember to think about all of the things you are good at doing. Before starting or continuing a college education, it is critical that you choose the right field. One that is in high demand and one you can actually succeed in. The more demand there is for a field, the better chance you will have at getting a job offer upon completion of your degree. Check out the article, “The College Degrees with the Highest Starting Salary in 2015” on http://www.forbes.com for a start.

Next comes visiting the prospective schools and learning about their application processes. Each school is different. Make sure you know what is required from the schools you are interested in. For some, visiting the school ahead of time helps to make the decision easier. But, with the introduction of the internet and the wide usage of websites, you can often get a virtual tour and even chat with someone online. For the application process, some schools want an essay or a video resume along with the regular requirements of testing results, admissions application (if you cannot pay the application fee, you can ask, in many cases, to have it waived) and high school graduation information. I suggest you apply at a few different schools. This is also the time to apply for scholarships and financial aid.

Education is the key, now how do you open the door? Once you pick the school, apply and start classes, make it a point to maintain good grades starting from the very first semester. Improving your GPA (grade point average) can prove to be more difficult when you have a bad first semester. To do this go to class, take notes, study until you know you know the material, join study groups, get a tutor, use Google when needed, utilize the writing center on campus, ask friends for help, and the list goes on. Also, be sure to prepare yourself with valid and valuable internships that are related to your field. You can go to your school counselor to find internships, but you can also ask your professors if they know of any internships. Use any and all interview and resume preparation you can find, whether at school or otherwise, so you can be prepared for the new corporate workforce. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Last, but not least, create a brand for yourself. This will help to set yourself apart from other candidates with the same credentials, looking for the same jobs in the corporate world that you are. Think of your brand like jeans. There are many different brands of jeans, but Levis and more recently True Religion and Lucky, are all brands that stick out to the average jean wearer. These three companies have come up with unique ideas in order to be noteworthy and distinct. You too, can make yourself stick out from the crowd.

So, in a nutshell: Go to school, pick the right field, get good grades, work an internship, get a mentor, develop your brand and market it! There are many steps in between, but I believe anything is possible if you want it bad enough and are willing to devote the time and effort needed to make it happen!

Update from article on January 20th, Build Your Community, Don’t Burn it Down!:

Harris County DA Anderson has stated her support for legislation that will revamp the grand jury selection process. (Houston chronicle)

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Although I am not aware of the details, there is legislation that will be considered by the Texas lawmakers in Austin. It is my hope that any such legislation will not only deal with the selection process of the grand jurors, but will also deal with overhauling the grand jury system in total. This would include, looking at things like making the entire process more transparent.

How important is the company you keep? How do you know if you are supposed to pull others up or if they are just a waste of time?

IFeatured imagef you want to be excellent and your objectives are significant then you want to be around people with similar goals, accomplishments and dreams. Many of us learned this through the transition from high school to college. Coming home on holidays or breaks, you would see the friends who decided not to go away for college. Whether they began working, they started a 24/7 party life, or even started a family. Their goals, dreams and even personalities began to drift from your own. You come home to visit and spend less and less time with these childhood friends. Now, as an adult, they may be your friend on Facebook or Instagram, but they are usually a far cry from some of the people you connect with on professional levels. This process is usually something one does not notice, but it happens to most of us. We generally prune our relationships naturally in order to grow individually.

If you wake up and notice that you are keeping some company you probably shouldn’t. Stop! Don’t dumb down. Dumbing down is acting less intelligent than you really are in order to be accepted by a person or group of people. Try to be around people with aspirations, life goals, outlooks, drive and determination similar to yours. Smarten up!

Now, to be clear, I am not saying that you should not help your friends, or provide support or mentoring for others. After all, helping others and keeping bad company are two different things. You can’t help bad company. If your friend is overly negative, unproductive, and lazy and mean, they probably cannot benefit from your help.Featured image

On the other hand, consider friends who don’t have the education you have, for example. They may not know the crux of how to get into college, or they may not think they can afford it. As their friend, you should assuredly go out of your way to help them find a good school, teach them about financial aid, even go as far as going to the school with them or helping them fill out applications. Helping those who help themselves is always a win-win!

Sometimes, however, you may not have the time or the tools to pull someone up. You wouldn’t pull over and give someone the last of the gas in your car because Featured imagethen you couldn’t go anywhere. Helping others should be a conscious decision that does not affect you negatively in the long run. If you want to help people, great! But what about self-preservation? I would not want to help others so much that in doing so, it causes me to be only mediocre. If I accomplish my goals and objectives, I am better equipped to help others.

Generally, hang around people who are like-minded and, in which, the relationship is mutually beneficial. Don’t hang around people who cannot help you get to where you want to be. Consciously helping someone is fine, but don’t get caught in the web of being drained negatively by friends and associates.

What will you Gain from Working with Jefferson Consulting?

Featured imageOf course the answer everyone gives is the simple answer. By working with me, you can increase your income, potentially gain a more senior position within your company and even be introduced to influential people necessary to help you further your career.

But, there is so much more to learn and gain from having me as your consultant. One of the first things we need to do as a new team is to create your specific definition of success. The idea of success for one person may be different than that of another person. It is up to you to decide what is important. Find the truth within, it helps.

My personal definition of success?  Make a difference in the workplace and community, feel good about myself and what I do, and have the financial ability to live the lifestyle I want to live.

Overall, when working with Jefferson Consulting, you will gain added perspective with how you align with the world; where you fit in and how do you get to where you want to be. With my help you can get the assistance you need to be better aligned with the world.

Diversity in Hollywood…Who is Under, Over, and perfectly represented?

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Diversity in Hollywood…Who is Under, Over, and perfectly represented?

 

Lately, the media has been buzzing about the lack of diversity in Hollywood. Yes, we need more diversity in Hollywood. There is diversity at different levels. We think of Hollywood as actors and actresses. It seems to me that the community that has made the biggest strides in landing starring roles, is the LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transgender Questioning) community. There are sitcoms with gay leads and strong supporting rolls. We have talk show hosts that are openly gay, news anchors who have come out of the closet and are even more popular because of it! Highlighting LGBT in Hollywood has become not only accepted, but also prevalent. Because of some great organizations who support the LGBTQ community both with their time and with their money, a significant amount of influence via lobbying in Washington DC, has led to this accomplishment.

In the world of black actors and actresses, things have also changed tremendously. We can keep making progress in respect to black entertainers by including black entertainers as leads or stars that feature a diverse mix of characters. We do not have to relegate black actors to predominantly black movies, or any race or ethnicity to any particular movie for that matter.

There is a lot of room for progress in the Hispanic community. Hollywood, itself, sits in an area that has a Hispanic majority, but this group is still missing in major starring rolls. My advice to the Hollywood bigwigs? Continue making progress with LGBTQ and black communities but, work harder at making bigger strides in areas that are lacking tremendously. Keep ramping up Hispanic and Asian actors, in something other than gang and action movies.

“Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s “supposed” to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.” Mark Cuban

Featured imageMarc Cuban is spot on with this idea. Any company can get into a groove. If you run a company, this means your profits are probably flat. If you are an individual working for someone else, this means your job is stale. This groove should be an indicator to look someplace else, or do something different. You finally realize if you continue to do the same thing, you are going to get the same results. It is an opportunity, if everyone is doing something the same way for a long, long time, regardless of if it is working, it is most likely time to change.

Let’s use Henry Ford, as an example. He surrounded himself with a team of brilliant people. He made the Model T. Surrounding himself with good people and listening to good ideas that were sound and intact, made Ford a fortune and a name for himself. We all have people in our lives of influence, tap into them and their knowledge base and use it. Everyone on this earth has a role to play, a place to fit into, no one is insignificant. Use your team to create your “Model T!”

Think about it. If what you are doing is unsuccessful, you tend to try something new. But, if a person or company is successful, they tend to lean on the pattern that has worked in the past, without revamping it. It is pertinent to know that even if success has come, you can still tweak and change things to make your success bigger, better and most importantly, sustaining. Here’s a free tip: Try setting bigger goals for your company. If you made a goal to increase profits by 2% per quarter and you have accomplished that for the last 3 quarters, change that goal to something you feel might be unattainable (but not outrageous) and see what happens! Trying new things can help you to succeed even more than you are already succeeding.

Presidential Candidates Need to Act Like Grownups

Featured imageIt is my sincere hope that the Republicans who run for president don’t get into an anti-Obama campaign. In other words, I do not want to see them run a campaign that says, “I am opposed to all of these things Obama did.” This would be extremely partisan and detrimental to our country. This type of activity would undermine and dismiss the great strides already taken by our current president to improve things for us all, as is the aim of every president. Thinking back on the last few years, there have been signs that say this is exactly what we will see.

Hearing the Senate Majority Leader say, “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term,” (washingtonpost.com) lets us know that we have a major issue on our hands. The number one job of our House and Senate should be something like ending homelessness in the U.S., or creating world peace; not impeaching the president.

Issues of substance should be the things that are focused on during AND after the election. Do the job you were elected to do. The last thing that should be happening is the bashing of the opposite party. We expect our politicians to represent their communities, respect each other and act like adults.